The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.16.23 – 04.29.23

by April 30, 2023 0 comments

Life would have been absolutely empty without imagination.

Jack Williamson

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“BAM” ~ Howie Good

“Collage” ~ Howie Good

To see all of Howie’s madly mystical collages, as well as our other resident artists (50 and counting!) take a virtual stroll thru Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This past week (04.23-04.29) on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we caught sight of what’s upright; we priced it right for fight or flight; we recalled the taint on buried saints; we cried our need to learn to read; we praised the grain on the whiskey train; we beat to rave o’er board on wave; we enterprised an uprise. It’s all or nothing while amounting to something. ~ MH Clay

Meditation on Uprisings by David P. Kozinski

One day a quirky
old building (dumbwaiters, gargoyles,
funhouse stairs) is brought down
with incisive verbs incanted
and precisely leveled charges
and up rises another.

To find the location where I’m speaking
drop your GPS in the forgetting hole
and navigate by the constellations.
To find that best moment of sleep
lie down in the pool and look up.
I’m dying to hear from you
to see your new shell.


Take a look in the mirror
of the choir dressing room
and find yourself attractive for the first time.
It’s the hair.
A little self-gazing is good at a certain age.

Take a look in the sacristy
where someone in costume
has been siphoning wine.
In my childhood church
they used a modest Malbec for communion
with pine and cat piss undertones.

In the drawers of candle snuffers
and offering envelopes you’ll also find
a songbook and a libretto
with too many authors
that says someone must do something
about all the suffering, and, if only the right combination
of tools could be found
and says elsewhere, everyone must not.
That’s the way of a flat world. Now, no one
is on his way to help.


After big wars come big words
and then a promise and another
until, as winter dons its rosy duds, the calf
finds its legs and its way in the herd
quickly or else.

That too is the world – libraries
burned or worse, neglected;
doggerel dressed as verse
while the little man pumps his little fists
for the cameras and the maddened crowd.

April 29, 2023

editors note: So it goes! – mh clay

The Art of Surfing by Christopher Calle

We are the wave and the board
And the invigorating water clock wading into shore
Cool as granite boots
Moon tide gravity oblongates mooring ropes on the monger’s indifferent vessel

Do you know the first rule of fishing?
I ask the untamed light
Walking over soothing board’s creak
smooth shafted anchors
Go where the fish are.

Near the long barrels
Past the riptide sandbar
wandering ray berm
Time reaps the hope of incautious optimism
And she paddles out to sea

We are the infinite sun and salty air
We are the solitude and the rhythm
Surface tension pulls itself into a molten mirror
Heaving with energy
a golden thread in the caustic mist

We are the seeker
Digging into this boundary between two worlds
A soft pong
Binaural beats

April 28, 2023

editors note: Cowabunga! – mh clay

Catcher of the Wry by Stephen Kingsnorth

Flavour laid down in the bog –
less burning throat as sphagnum moss –
cut glass tumbler, pheromones,
yet mugged in tin, toothmug chin,
bristle dribble, rising waft,
vessel sense, varicose nose,
still illicit, thin bath charm,
malt at fault if backwoodsman.

Peat for warming, grate home turf,
tripe and onions, liver swell,
black and whyte, both bush and mills,
the briar tamped beneath the sign,
and craic, such çraic, the key in spell;
border north, plantation Scotch,
but here the Garda, shots at will,
and spittoon now for tar babies.

April 27, 2023

editors note: Nothing so sweet as whiskey, neat. – mh clay

Reading You by Ahmad Al-khatat

I smoked and drank
another bottle of wine
in my hotel room
all by myself.

I recall a body that
taught me to suffocate
in love for all the cities
we torched on fire.

We sing in hopes.
We flow in illusions.
Before the blue skies
unveil a sad nest,

because the planet is
no longer a secure place.
I scream your name
because I’m drunk.

You are moving toward
serenity. To read you like
a love poem, I am now
clearing my throat.

April 26, 2023

editors note: A city, a siren, a severed love; take another swallow, then speak up. – mh clay

Memory by Milenko Županović

We are gone
they disappeared in the storm
at the bottom of the ocean
buried memories and feelings
of my people
dictatorship under the guise of democracy
imitation of life
bells of the last Christians
they ring in the mother’s arms
at the bottom of the ocean
where the memories are buried
of my people
who died
under tourist boats, police, scum of all kinds
with the permission of the state and corrupt politicians
the tears also disappeared
in prayer time.

April 25, 2023

editors note: How long must they hold their breath to not be forgotten? – mh clay

I’m Right by Lynda Baker

I saw your hand move
long before
It connected with my face.

I knew it was coming.
It was in your eyes
and your garbled growl
A warning
not to overstep my mark.

I should have stopped
Gone quietly
to my corner
taken some,
Time out!

But this was different.
I knew, I was right
and so I argued on.

The slap.
Like the crack
of a whip
made contact
with my skin

My head bounced
straining my neck.
With unfocused eyes
I stumbled back
as dizziness dragged
me to the floor.

There at your feet
The burning
imprint of your palm,
set my flesh on fire.

Cautiously I probe
check the extent
of the damage
You have done.

Towering over me
you sneer

“So now,
Who’s right or wrong?”

Through tears of fear
and bloodied lips
I whisper
“I’m right
You’re drunk…”

April 24, 2023

editors note: This should never be the price of right! – mh clay

Adjudicating Uprightness by KJ Hannah Greenberg

In states of affairs exemplified by gender (re)interpretation,
By last century’s French Canadians’ linguistic quarrels and
The PLO/ Israeli conflict, incommensurability baffles.

Employing a system of adjudicating uprightness can lead to
Scaffolding communication’s stimuli, necessarily involving
Odd ducks of distinction and similarity.

Perpetuating double-bind messages while confusing cultural
Epistemology shows concrete jargons exposed conveyances;
Exclusivity’s ascription of worth is deadly.

Collusion remains poison as does doxing rhetors since many
Undergalvanized troupes attempt cogent discourse to poison
Status quo limits that bail up denizens.

Our politics unwaveringly vary—we are unlike, incongruous,
Fail to be referenced as “acceptable,” else become impulsive.
Thoughts can serve us as verbal hapkido.

Rather, we must illustrate metatheories, raise questions about
Standards, values, and virtues spent in communication, abide
Semantic’s new airt.

Raising questions about merit’s embodiment invites pondering
Over ideas’ substance, relative to their arrangement, given that
Both utility and parsimony live as persuasion’s helves.

Alternation requires resocialization; dismantling of pelf gangs,
Disintegrating of fierce ukases, equally of most empathy, plus
Altogether rejecting subjective reality’s nomic structures.

Neither antimetaboles nor coercion succeed when we derive “self”
Through scripts or demarcate via dreams, deliberate “revelations,”
Grand hopes, maybe also vfx displays.

April 23, 2023

editors note: What does a new reality “look” like? (Break out your dictionaries for this one.) – mh clay


This past week (04.16-04.22) on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we took what we heard to find words within words; we sparked stars to glistening while bower bound and listening; we metaphor marked our sins in the dark; we named our doin’s for love and ruin; we felt a dearth of love for earth; we monitored meaning in life routining; we mourned one gone while we walked on. So we go… ~ MH Clay

Walking to the Memorial Service by Marianne Szlyk

As we walk down Sixteenth Street,
south past steady flow of traffic,
there is nowhere to cross.

We fear we’ll miss the service
at the cinderblock church steeped
in apple juice from day care,

in Joni’s aching ballads,
in words from the minister
who knew the deceased.

We contemplate not crossing.
We could just walk past
boxwood and brick ranches.

We could slip past this church,
past other churches, then storefront
funeral homes. We could

stop at the Jamaican bakery
just past the old Walter Reed.
We could turn around, go home.

Too far south of this street
we can’t cross is the city
people like us can visit:

the bridge with stone angels,
the one we crossed in cold weather
to sit with him at the Aster,

eat white pizza, drink boxed wine,
read poetry.

April 22, 2023

editors note: When one drops out, we others keep walking anyway. – mh clay

Watching Birds & Other by Julene Tripp Weaver

A Falcon lives high, dives deep,
their daily life monitored
watched on camcorders:
eggs laid and hatched, we observe
them, they eat, feed, grow, fly—

elemental these routine animal
activities—the daily mess of life.

All our Activities of Daily Living
the doctors and nurses ask their questions
record our answers, the social worker,
the social security clerk with boxes to fill,
the aging need care, the Falcon lives unassisted.

We watch each other—
think we know what is real.

A baby monitor to see and hear a child
asleep upstairs, under surveillance for safety,
what is necessary, helpful, ethical, desirable
for the bird, for the child, for the elder?
Some turned tyrannical with reality TV—

it came to us during the writer’s strike—
a bump into tyranny that already existed.

All I want is privacy, a door with a lock—
a key, a room of my own, a place to hide.

April 21, 2023

editors note: What reality unless written? Keep your keys handy. – mh clay

Outside Las Vegas (at Lake Mead) by Dale Cottingham

Your texts
freight my phone,

little words, phrases
you use like a knife

to dissect what is us.

I might not see you again
but right now

I’m quickened by
Lake Mead,

hundreds of feet below normal,

a suspended dock,
sand reaching its distance,

the far bluff’s bleached line
where water used to be:

a tell that we live to excess.

This water’s absence
stands as a sign:

don’t we all, at the end,
choose us,

what we’ve come to do
in Eliot’s waste,

because we feel
we have no one else,

my hands holding
my cupful of fear.

Why else does chalk
fill my mouth

while my culture’s great cities, little burgs
express self as the epitome of the age.

This absence over water I face
offers its critique,

pulls me
to a conclusion

as hard as any epitaph
slurred on us:

that we thought
the earth was ours.

Across the depleted lake,
I see a void

that waits for me.
No different than

the ache I feel
when I think of going on without you.

April 20, 2023

editors note: We center on self and lose what we love. Gosh, I’m thirsty! – mh clay


every room in this house is on fire
every second and pace of my hermitage
is for God or you
the card you pull,
and the inkblot night
soaking into the blues and marrow,
is a dream of us
we can stalk ourselves through
the loud lights of town and
this game I’ve made being cursed
give me rush and purchase to you
phantom entrée and feral pass
to the wilds of you, clearings deep
in the woods of you
and the lake there
above your sex and just behind your heart
I take to
humming a mother’s circular song of duty
killing everything our fathers failed to
and truly running out the expansive self
drinking black coffee and laughing
as the day breaks and the sun insists
on rising over all our work and ruin

April 19, 2023

editors note: Here’s a love like an honest day’s work. (We welcome Jim to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Blood and ink by Mike Zone

(Lady on a Wire#24)

We live in sin
on a turbulent sea of change
towards extinction
inkblot dreams
chronicle a schizophrenic love-song
where eastern promises dwindle to forgotten things
being knocked around in a series of westside calamities
pink folded fleshy center blooming like a desert flower
we throw our blood-infused ink on the refashioned skeletons of trees
crumpling the shells of what we were
what we allow others to perceive
lacking a port in the storm
love and sin on the floor
rorschach romance
loving sin on the floor
daybreak sunbursts
trickling lunar light
unbridled passion
it all goes down
in the dark
hands clasped
a sacred intimacy
pelvis bones grinding
in unison
life is metaphor
a choir lacking divinity
taking in the scent of lilac and wilderness concrete
ivory carved figures – will trace one another’s form with a single finger
basking within intermingled heat
the nightbird’s executioner’s song falls silent
but I don’t mind
if a stranger calls…

April 18, 2023

editors note: A metaphor for god’s ennui. (This is one of Mike’s poems in his latest collaboration, RAZORVILLE, with Shannon Lynette and Paul Warren. Get your copy here). – mh clay

grapes now for listening arthur by J. D. Nelson

I am the laugh of the stars
I loan sparks

in the scattered light
there are friends:

old beetle mind
wolf leaf

skiff melba
green grease


April 17, 2023

editors note: Best buds beneath a bower. (Say! J. D. has a new collection out, in ghostly onehead. Get your copy here.) – mh clay

The words within the words by Doctor Koshy AV

Emptiness in
Sadness ad
Grief if
Sorrow row
Unhappiness app
Anger an
Wrath rat
Lust us
Orgasm or gas
Masturbation mast bat on
Sexual fantasies ex fan as I
Porn unleashed or leash a shed
Unbridled bridle rid Id led
Depression press ion I on
Frustration rust at ion I on
Moodiness OD in dines
Heaviness in vine
Nothingness in thin thing
Vengeful thoughts wench ought O
Blasphemy asp
Pride rid ride
Avarice greed rice ice reed
Envy jealousy lousy
Getting you tin
Nowhere ow
Nowhen hen
No how
No any oh
No who
No what which why hat hic
Watch movies vies
Listen to music ten
Can’t fill the hole can ill
In the soul sou
The blackness black
Darkness dark
Nights starless night star less
Cell windowless gaol jail prison endless window ail son end
In the mind them
The lost feeling feel
In the heart hear
And the loneliness in the pit of the stomach lone line it Tom
Door portal to the bottomless abyss do port bottom
Such excess sex

god i need some salve for this abscess cess

April 16, 2023

editors note: The meanings are up to you me art you – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re looking for the break loose then check out A Perfect Escape by Marzia Rahman!

This one’s too short to tease so we’ll tempt your mind with our editor’s note:

The longest relationship you’ll ever have is one with yourself, and that starts with loving yourself

“The Other Side” by Tyler Malone

See what Tyler’s talkin’ ’bout right here!


If you need a read then dig on the dystopian tale, Block 87” by Gary Duehr!

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the week:

No matter what is happening in the world or what world it is, there are things that we should see coming. That we know are coming.

Here’s some writing on the wall:

“Across Any Street” by Tyler Malone

There has been a murder in Block 87. A few miles away at PS 52 (Peace and Security branch 52), the gunshot finder pinged faintly at 4:13 pm, a green dot blinking on its screen like radar. A hovercraft with two officers, Badges 1087 and 3495 (a trainee and his female superior), was summarily dispatched. “Code Red,” barked the PA as the garage hatch slid open.

“Could be a false alarm,” said Badge 3495, “but you never know.” Powered by an antigravity cell, the lozenge-shaped craft glided out into a cloudless blue sky.

In the glass-and-steel office block, five shiny shards of towers embedded around a plaza punctured by new maples, no one seems to have seen or heard anything. It could be that among the endless flanks of computers, the future-designers—their young, pale faces clamped between parentheses of black headphones—were too preoccupied with stretching neon-colored trapezoids and rhombuses on their screens into angular blueprints, not unlike the buildings they occupied. Over each workstation hovered a black lamp’s spidery crane.

The gunshot finder got the PS officers within 100 yards of the suspicious event in Tower C. According to protocol, Badge 3495 explained to the trainee, they would scan floor by floor with the hovercraft’s negative-heat seeker, which targeted any large organic mass that was no longer radiating warmth. In other words, a dead body…

Get the rest of this ominous tale right here!


Check out No Forgiveness by Christopher Antony

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the week:

Sometimes you get away with a crime, but you don’t get away with a good life.

Here’s some teasin’ to get you readin’:

“Get Thee to a Church” by Tyler Malone

That evening she hurriedly exited home from the backside door, unmindful that her husband was not at home. Defying her age, she rushed and managed to reach the confessional just before the priest was about to move out. What she had to confess was the same every week. She had bad mouthed her husband every day and night, abusing and accusing her husband of a thousand things.

Her behaviour could be due to her being over-possessive of her husband or excessive love or whatever. Anything in excess, be it love or alcohol or even prayers, would only give a negative effect. She looked and behaved as a very normal, likeable lady to all except to her tormented husband. The problem could have found root decades ago. In early days when most marriages were arranged marriages, it so happened that some marriages weren’t between fully consenting minds. Though they manage to get on well even for a long period in their married life, that doesn’t last as the devil of unfulfilled desire that was lying dormant in the archive of their mind becomes active. Unable to go back in time, frustration sets in, marring the present and the future. Such sick minds dredge up old hurt and dig out new dirt…

Get the rest of this read right here


If you’ve got a string in your heart that needs some pulling, Come Back and Stay by Contributing Writer Lorene Aurelia Holderfield is sure to do just that.

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the week:

Go, be gone. I’ll keep what you taught me and wait for how love changes when it only lives in one heart.

Here’s a few broken-hearted beats:

“Unshackle My Heart” by Tyler Malone

My heart quivers within my breast. My voice is gone. My stomach churns and knots. I cannot speak all the words I yearn to say aloud. I cannot express all the emotions I have long felt and kept silently hidden. My strength faded, my mind empty. My heart shatters repeatedly at every instance of life that reminds me of you. I’m gasping for air. Time can pass, but I have been so sad since you died. Tears gush forth from every angle and crevice in my worn-out, beaten heart. Please come ease this ache. “Stay. Stay! Stay!” The heavy weight of grief and sorrow smashes me; the sense of losing my way fills the empty void. I feel the cold blade of loneliness.

Come back and stay. Can you feel my heart? I feel so helpless. It’s too heavy, lonely, and suffocating. I miss the sun. My heart withers like fruit upon an ancient tree. I tug at the heavy chains tightened around my shaking and suffering heart…

Get the rest of Lorene’s mourning story right here!

••• Mad Swirl Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of May (aka 05.03.23) as we do the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION as well as from our Mad Zoom Room (broadcasted via FB Live)!

Starting at 7:30pm, join hosts Johnny O & MH Clay as we will kick off these open mic’n Mad Swirl’n festivities with some musical grooves brought to you by Swirve (Chris & Tamitha Curiel, Gerard Bendiks) followed by our usual unusual open mic!

Come one.

Come all.

Come to participate…

(RSVP at our Facebook event page or send a message to

Come to appreciate…

(join us LIVE at Barbara’s Pavillion- located at 323 Centre St, Dallas -OR- tune in to our Facebook LIVE feed starting at 7:30pm)

Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call… Mad Swirl!

••• The Best of Mad Swirl : v2022 •••

It’s not too late to celebrate Nat’l Poetry Month! And what a better way than to support Mad Swirl & our anthology “The Best of Mad Swirl : v2022!” Get yours… NOW!

The Best of Mad Swirl : v2022 AVAILABLE NOW!

The Best of Mad Swirl : v2022 is a 115-page anthology featuring 52 poets, 12 short fiction writers, and four artists hailing from 4 Continents, 11 Countries (Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Nigeria, Serbia, Syria, UK, USA [18 states: AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, KS, MA, MI, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, TX, VA, WA, WI], Viet Nam)

Huge grats & shout-outs to our 2022 featured Contributors (in alphabetical order):

Featured Artists:

J Gregory Cisneros
Howie Good
Eric Suhem
Jada Yee

Featured Poets:

Archie Abaire
Ahmad Al-khatat
Preacher Allgood
Gayle Bell
Mandakini Bhattacherya
Henry Bladon
Lucinda Borchard
Christopher Calle
Ekta Singh Chandel
Margaret Coombs
PW Covington
Ruth Z. Deming
Colin Dodds
John P. Drudge
Fatihah Quadri Eniola
Michael Estabrook
Skaja Evens
Joseph Farley
Vern Fein
Ryan Quinn Flanagan
Alan Gann
John Grey
Jeff Grimshaw
Marie Higgins
Peycho Kanev
Stephen Kingsnorth
Casey Renee Kiser
Phyllis Klein
Fay L. Loomis
Brendan McBreen
Bradford Middleton
Lisa Moak
J. D. Nelson
Nweke Benard Okechukwu
Brittany Ortega
Nikita Parik
Jeffrey Park
Timothy Pilgrim
David Punter
Polly Richardson (Munnelly)
Emalisa Rose
Ken Edward Rutkowski
Sanjeev Sethi
Beate Sigriddaughter
Paul Tristram
Ndue Ukaj
Mel Waldman
Catherine Zickgraf
Chris Zimmerly
Mike Zone

Featured Writers:

Kirk Alex
Ruth Z. Deming
Colin Dodds
Thomas Elson
Susie Gharib
Melissa Hickey
Keith Hoerner
Flora Jardine
Michael Kozart
James Lawless
Randall Rogers
Sunil Sharma

This anthology is a great introduction to the world of Mad Swirl!

If we’ve enticed you enough to wanna get you your very own copy of “The Best of Mad Swirl : v2022” then get yours right here!


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin’ on… NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in our Mad Swirl’s World? Then come by whenever the mood strikes! We’ll be here…


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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